Angel Olsen was made for the Sydney Opera House. The drama in her voice, cutting like a switchblade laced with the sweetest poison, mirroring her barbed songwriting and regularly wow’ing the crowd into whisper-quiet rapture. As part of her All Mirrors tour of Australia, the 36-year-old singer-songwriter presented a beautiful performance that really iterated how formidable the Concert Hall has become for live music.
And while this can be attributed to many factors, no less Angel Olsen’s ethereal, visceral and incisive tunes, the show wouldn’t have stuck as well if it wasn’t for Olsen’s contemplative, constantly haunting voice. Huddled towards the centre of the stage, beaming over a microphone and plucking at her guitar, Olsen inspired vulnerability and songs like “All Mirrors” and “Lark” encourage an emotional purge.
Like all good music, Olsen helps listeners talk to themselves in ways not readily obvious. Music, as piercing and transcendent as the likes of “Ghost On” and the gorgeous “Sister,” is a way for listeners to sublimate complicated emotions and present them in a way that can be examined and observed rather than feared and buried. It was obvious looking over the attentive crowd that emotion plays a big part in Angel Olsen’s appeal, and it’s a testament to her expressive songwriting that many in attendance looked as if they were on the verge of tears.
And while an Olsen concert doesn’t seem as torturingly introspective as if The National were belting their tear-jerkers in the Forecourt (someone bring them back, please), there’s certainly that bittersweet element of seeing this woman live. Stuff a small packet of tissues in your pocket if you will, because at least one of these songs will be able to dig deep, for better or worse.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Header image credit: Ken Leanfore